Who is the most reliable Quarterback in the NFL?


July 24, 2015

As a Doctor of Physical Therapy, my career has been centered around evidence.  Physical Therapy is an evidence based practice which relies on real proof that something works.  Along with evidence, I use the objectivity of science and the input of performance to make sure my clients and patients receive the best care possible.  

I used this same approach to create The SEP Reliability Rating system.  SEP stands for Science, Evidence, and Performance; and this is a new and effective way to determine which players you can count on.  I have ranked the top players at every position and will give you their rating along with a few factors that helped to calculate that rating.  

I used weight, speed, experience, football IQ, injury history, position norms, and other factors to create a rating system that predicts which players are the most reliable.  Trust that each rating is calculated with injury science, evidence, and player performance history.  I put just a pinch of subjective into these ratings as I believe there are simply some things that you have to assess with your eyes and not through data.  

For the Quarterbacks I ranked 33 players.  The most reliable Quarterback earned a rating of 124 while the least reliable earned a rating of 73.  I rated the players that I expect to be starting caliber and I included the 2 first round draft picks.  Here we go!  Click here to see quarterback rankings 33 through 23. Click here to see rankings 22 through 16.

“The best ability is availability”-Herm Edwards


15. Phillip Rivers: SEP Rating – 93

phillip rivers

144 and 2006 are the numbers to know with Phillip Rivers.  The veteran has started 144 straight games and has not missed a game since 2006.  When it comes to reliability based on history, there is only one other active quarterback that can contend with Phillip Rivers.  Despite this stellar history, Rivers is in the top third of the league for pass attempts as well as in the top third of the league for taking sacks.  As he continues into his mid 30’s, we will have to see if he can continue his good fortune.  For those who do have something riding on Phillip Rivers, keep in mind that he did have what reporters called “a significant back injury” last year, but at this point it seems that he has avoided surgery.  The bulging disc injury that he is reported to have should be manageable with some good Physical Therapy and maybe some extra back support during games.  Furthermore the offer of an extension by the San Diego Chargers leads me to believe that their medical staff is not that concerned with his back.  I wouldn’t worry much about this injury specifically, but it may be a preview of what is to come for an aging QB that tends to be a bit more reckless than the Brady’s and Manning’s of the world.

14. Cam Newton: SEP Rating – 95


I like to put athletes into categories; and although the best athletes will blur the lines of either being “Freaky Talented” or “Supremely Skilled”, Cam Newton is one that I would put near the top of the “Freaky Talented” list.  Aside from Lebron James, I do not believe there is an athlete today that can compete with Cam Newton’s measurable assets.  At 6′ 5″ and 245lbs, running a 4.58 40 yard dash; Cam is surely the best athlete at the quarterback position today.  Unlike most of the players I put in the “Freaky Talented” group, Cam does not have to max out his physical talents on a regular basis as the quarterback position does not call for this often.  For this reason, I feel that Cam Newton is a quarterback guru away from being near the top of this list.  He has all the tools to be immune to injury like his closest counterpart Lebron James, BUT I have 458 problems with Cam’s game.  WIth 341 rush attempts over the past 3 years, Cam leads this group of QBs by over 30 attempts; and with 117 sacks Cam is the 3rd highest in this group.  Appropriately, to go with these statistics I gave Cam Newton a 2 out of 5 for his decision-making and quick release score.  Some of these issues are with the team that is put around him as well as a coaching staff that doesn’t seem to be getting the best out of Cam; while some goes back to that “Freaky Talented” mentality.  Cam has made a habit of using his talent over his skill and mental preparation and that has led him to too many injuries in a short career.  Despite an abundance of small injuries, I do not see any injuries that should linger with Cam this upcoming season.  If we can see even a bit of progression from Cam that will bring his sacks and rush attempts down, I expect to see Cam Newton climb this list quickly and become one of the most Teflon quarterbacks this league has today.

13. Tony Romo: SEP Rating – 97


For those who are not aware, I am an Eagles fan.  So if you hear a little bias in this analysis……oh well!  Tony Romo is a veteran quarterback at this point and over the past 3 years has managed to take the fewest rush attempts among the quarterbacks who were active for the entire 3 years.  WIth only 76 rush attempts in this time period, Romo is obviously benefitting from the Dallas Cowboys investing heavily in a top-notch offensive line and running game.  Romo has had a decrease in pass attempts of greater than 100 attempts as compared to the previous year over the past 2 years.  The Dallas Cowboys are literally extending his career by transitioning Tony Romo from a gun slinger who threw 648 passes in 2012, to a game manager who threw 435 passes in 2014.  I bet DeMarco Murray wished the Cowboys cared about him as much!  In any case, Romo has become a reliable quarterback due to the recent changes and I expect this to continue despite DeMarco Murray’s departure to a much better situation.  I look at him as a low risk/low reward option as his reliability is based on his lesser usage and not necessarily a product of him being more durable or more mature to avoid injuries.  Romo backers will want to watch out if that running game can not produce like it has in the past, as I believe the gun slinger is still alive and waiting to throw some big interceptions to Malcolm Jenkins and Byron Maxwell.

12. Jameis Winston: SEP Rating – 98


I feel kind of weird ranking a rookie this high on a reliability rating, but as the number 1 overall pick Jameis Winston will be held to high expectations.  Winston is a big body quarterback that should be able to take a few hits.  But the key is “a few” hits.  If the scouts and experts are correct, we should see Winston adjust well to the NFL and continue his trend of getting the ball out quickly.  Furthermore, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be in full-out Fort Knox mode when it comes to protecting their franchise QB.  This will likely have to be done through play calling and Jameis making good decisions as their offensive line continues to be poor.  I think you can rely on Winston to finish the season but his numbers may reflect the limitations of the Bucs offense.

11. Ben Roethlisberger: SEP Rating – 98


Big Ben Roethlisberger is exactly that ….BIG!  At a listed 241lbs that may be a little light, Ben continues to evade defenders and play at a high level.  Ben is only averaging 1 missed game per year over the past 3 years and despite being sacked 7th most over that time period, he has only suffered a few minor injuries.  I consider Ben’s size and strength to ward off defenders to be his greatest attribute during most of his career, but I think he may have a new secret weapon to prevent injury.  That weapon is Le’Veon Bell.  Not only is Bell allowing Ben to have more of the offensive responsibility to be off of his shoulders, Bell is allowing Ben to pile up impressive stats from short dump passes that carry little to no risk for Ben.  As we near my top ten most reliable quarterbacks, I would definitely list Ben Roethlisberger as a low risk/high reward quarterback as long as he doesn’t lose too much of that “Big Ben” mass or Le’Veon Bell.

Stay tuned for the top ten as you get ready to set your fantasy rosters.

Dr. Petty


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